“PlanWrite Expert Edition Business Plan Software Review”
From: Business Resource Software, Inc.
At first, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the Plan Write Expert Edition. From the research I’ve done on Business Resource Software, it seemed like a pretty reputable company and the software seemed pretty solid.
After some research, I found out that Business Resource Software Inc. has some pretty big names on their list of clients.
Their products have been used by thousands of businesses including American Express, MacDonalds, IBM Corp., AT&T, Century 21, Motorola, Shell Oil, Texas Instruments, Toyota, Wells Fargo Bank, Xerox and many others. A pretty impressive line up. Business Resource Software has been around since 1989 and have become one of the leaders in business planning software.
I’ve heard some pretty good reviews from other sources and I wanted to find out what this software could do for me. I have to admit, I like this business planning software.
“Who's it designed for?”
PlanWrite Expert Edition is designed for those individuals who want a clean and professional plan without the big time frills of more expensive software. The software is easy to use and it's straight forward so it can be used by just about anyone who has a business idea.
The great thing about PlanWrite is that it can be used by professionals and new comers alike. The software can be fully customized.
“What's in it?”
PlanWrite for Business Expert Edition comes with all the necessary features you need to create a truly fantastic business plan. If you are a beginner to business planning, PlanWrite for Business Expert Edition provides step by step instructions and examples to help you create your business plan.
The plan wizard is easy to use. There are hundreds of business plan examples to help you every step of the way.
When I first downloaded the software, the installation took no more than 5 minutes and it was pretty straight forward.
At first you are presented with a PlanWrite resource page. This page is sort of like your home page and includes information that will get your started. On this page, you will find tabs for:
• New Plan
When you click on the “New Plan” tab, you are prompted to save the plan somewhere on your computer. Once the plan has been saved, you are presented with the “interview”. The interview is asks you a serious of questions that sets the "tone" for the business plan.
These questions are based on critical factors such as the product/service, market, competition, and other questions pertaining to your business. Each topic is described in detail with guidelines for describing your business accurately and attractively.
The interview is made up of:
As you describe each topic, the program explains the concept and suggests factors that should be considered as you write your plan. For example, the program will ask for information regarding the products market.
It will further break this down into smaller components such as the market share or market segmentation. The program will fully explain what this is and provide instruction and examples to help you put that concept together.
At first, the concept of the “offering” threw me off because I wasn’t sure what this meant. The offering is basically the product or service you are brining to the market. Once you understand this concept, it will make the planning process a whole lot easier.
As you go through the interview process, you are asked a variety of questions that you will answer on a scale of 1 to 10. Each question is explained in detail and provides specific examples to help you through the process. Each answered question helps the software to set the tone of your business plan.
Once you’ve completed the interview, you start on the actual “nuts and bolts” of the business plan. Before you begin writing the business plan, you are given the opportunity to choose from sample business plans to help you along the planning process. A great feature since you’re not left guessing what your plan should look like.
As you move through the process of writing your business plan, each topic you are asked to consider will be accompanied by a rationale. The rationale explains why a certain topic should be included in your business plan and offers suggestions for content.
I’ve found this outline to be particularly useful because you see everything on one screen. Unlike most other business planning software which display bits and pieces of the information, you are presented with everything on one page.
The top portion of the screen contains the examples and rational and the bottom portion contains the text editing portion. The rational will provide a detailed outline of why it is important to have that topic in your business plan.
Once you understand the topic, simply click on the example button and you are presented with a specific example from a similar business plan in your particular industry. After you have looked at the rationale and read the examples, the program allows you to write the text for that part of the business plan.
You can even hit the copy button and have the text from the sample business plan copied to your document window (which is exactly like a Word document).
If you feel you don’t need a certain topic, simply hit the exclude button and that topic will “disappear”. A great feature because there are certain topics that might not be necessary in your business plan. This way, you’re not left with a blank space in your business plan.
This is a great feature of the software since it basically takes you by the hand and shows you step by step how each component fits. The program than puts these critical components in a neat and orderly fashion that "flows" throughout the document as a good business plan should.
A fantastic feature that really shows the software’s flexibility. This way, you’re not left guessing or stuck for words as to what message you want to get across to your reader.
The first part of the process is called the “narrative”. This part includes the following topics:
Each section is broken down into subsections. Each subsection has a number of questions that the software will ask you. If you find yourself lost for words, simply hit the example button and you’ll be presented a detailed example of the topic and you can either copy parts of it or the whole thing.
As you finish up the text part of the business plan you come to the financial part of the software. Don’t worry, PlanWrite Expert Edition makes the financial part of the plan seem like...
After you've complete the text part of the business plan, PlanWrite Expert Edition will guide you through your financial projections. This can be intimidating for some people but don't worry, PlanWrite makes this seem like child's play.
I really like this set up because it is very easy to understand. As you go through, you will be asked questions about receivables, payables, inventory, cash on hand, loans, investments and more but don't worry, the program will provide instructions and examples for each assumption.
After the financial assumptions, you will come to a spreadsheet with a detailed template. The template will guide you to project the revenues you expect to generate and the expenses required to generate those revenues.
The projections are monthly for the first year and yearly thereafter up to 5 years. If you are not sure what to add to each of the line items, don't worry. Simply position your mouse on the label and press down on the mouse button. A detailed explanation will appear on the screen to guide you all the way through.
Once you have completed your projected revenues and expenses, PlanWrite will automatically generate profits based on your forecasts.
A fantastic program that generates the balance sheet and cash flow statement.
Once you have completed your financial projections, PlanWrite will automatically come up with a number of financial ratios that will help you to understand your business a little better.
As well as understand you business, the ratios will help with lending institutions, funding agencies, and investors. Each ratio is described in detail. These ratios are important business indicators and will go a long way to convincing your lenders that your business is viable.
PlanWrite for Business Expert Edition automatically generates a break even analysis for your business. I used to do my break evens manually and it was a pain in the neck. This is a great feature that will not only save you headaches but a lot of time.
After you’ve completed the financial part of your business plan, you come to the charts section. The charts section provides a number of pre-defined showing customer distribution, revenues, profits and cash flow.
The charts will be included in your final plan and will add to “sweeten” your business plan. The program gives you complete flexibility since you can include charts, get rid of them or add more.
PlanWrite also allows you to keep track of goals and objectives by providing milestones. This way you can define the critical milestones necessary for you to achieve the objectives stated in your business plan.
PlanWrite for Business Expert Edition offers a full analysis for your business plan by providing you with a plan audit. This is a fantastic feature that really shows the power of this software.
The audit checks for completeness, spelling errors and an evaluation of your business plan. I really love this feature because it ensures that your plan is complete and error free.
This is probably the most significant part of the software. Imagine having an business planning expert tell you what works and what doesn’t.
PlanWrite Expert Edition can be fully customized. Every industry is different and if you need to add or delete new topics, PlanWrite allows you to do this. If you want to organize in such a way as to fit with your needs, you can do it. No worries, you can completely customize your business plan with PlanWrite.
PlanWrite is also:
• MS Word export compatible and MS Excel format financials
• Single or multiple authors
• Team Collaboration
• Publish your plan to the web
• Save any plan as a template
• Resource Centre
“Is PlanWrite Expert Edition Worth It?”
When I first tried this software out, I was a little concerned because the “offering” concept threw me off. However, once I understood offering concept and moved on to the main part of the program, I came to understand that this was a very powerful piece of business planning software.
What I came to really appreciate about this powerful software is the expert analysis. A truly fantastic feature.
I really liked this software. It's cost effective and super easy to use. At $219.95 it sure beats hiring a consultant to do up the same plan for $3,000.
Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, XP